The 2024 Future Countryside conference aims to put rural policy “at the forefront” ahead of the upcoming General Election, organisers have said.

The second annual conference seeks to bring ambition and energy to rural policy and is set to take place Tuesday, June 4, at Syon Park, London.

The event will be headlined by Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Stephen Barclay and opposition politicians, business leaders, farmers and experts on nature and conservation are also confirmed as speakers.

Organisers said the conference will allow the nation’s potential leaders to make their case for the countryside ahead of the next General Election later in the year.

It will also be a place to hear from those making rural Britain work, helping natural recovery, economic success and better lives.

Speakers at the invitation-only event include:

  • Stephen Barclay;
  • Labour’s shadow environment secretary, Steve Reed;
  • Chair of Marks and Spencer, Archie Norman;
  • Associate editor of The Times, Alice Thomson;
  • The chief executive of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA), Sarah Mukherjee;
  • Chair of National Trust, René Olivieri;
  • Author and co-founder of the New Citizen Project, Jon Alexander.

Industry leaders

Attendees will also hear from industry leaders including dairy farmer and National Farmers’ Union of Wales (NFU Cymru) deputy president Abi Reader as well as Lisa Manning of the New to Nature campaign and the Plunkett Foundation’s Charlie Luxton.

The two main themes at the centre of discussions are ‘Communities and the Countryside’ chaired by the Prime Minister’s rural advocate and chair of the Countryside Agency Lord Ewen Cameron and ‘Landscapes for Food, Nature and Health’ chaired by author Sarah Langford.

The agenda will also comprise of round table and delegate discussions with an aim of bringing about solutions to the pressures facing the countryside.

Chair of Landscapes Review and co-founder of Future Countryside, Julian Glover, said: “Our ambition is for Future Countryside 2024 to expand on the success of last year.

“In an election year, in particular, rural policy should count. But something is wrong. It is almost always treated as a specialist and secondary issue.

“Decisions have been made inconsistently, sometimes accidentally, and with little public or political understanding or joined up ambition.

“Future Countryside strives to fix this by offering a day of inspiration, connection and ambition intended to share choices about the future of rural Britain with all of us who need it to succeed.”

Chair of the Countryside Alliance and co-founder of Future Countryside, Nick Herbert (Lord Herbert of South Downs), said:

“We have another great line-up and a fantastic venue for Future Countryside, with the room full of people from different organisations united by a love of the countryside.

“We are set for a timely debate about rural policy, and the event will be open to anyone who wants to join online.”